I thoroughly enjoyed this dystopian debut from Lavanya Lakshminarayan.
Set in Apex City, formerly Bangalore, some time in the future, this is a world convinced it is running successfully as a meritocracy.
Ninety percent of people are Virtuals, living in a world with remarkable access to technology. Seventy percent of them have two potential futures. Work really hard, have the right sort of face and the right sort of opinions, and you might be able to rise to the elite – the top twenty percent. Fail at your job, say the wrong thing at the wrong time, and you may be deported to the Ten Percent Analog world, where there is no electricity or running water, and where the lowest of the low are sent to the Farm and ‘harvested’.
The Ten Percent Thief is a series of vignettes set within this world – and I loved them.
I’m not always keen on a books that are effectively made up of connected short stories because it can make it a challenge to care about the characters and the world they live in. But I was hooked with this one.
Maybe it was the simplicity of the idea behind it all – that people can be cruelly separated into have-it-alls and have-it-nots. Maybe it was because the vignettes were connected. A character could pop up in one, then later in another, and I did care about how they’d end up – and how they got there. Maybe it was the way the stories were layered on top of one another to give a rounded view of this crazy world where in one chapter people are fighting for their lives, then in another fighting for promotion to the upper echelons.
As for plot, this builds with each vignette, as the Ten Percent set out to prove why they should never be written off – eventually arriving at a more than satisfying conclusion for this reader.
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